Nightly News | August 11, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: It was two years ago that a vicious attack by a chimpanzee left a woman named Charla Nash badly injured, so disfigured she wouldn't show her face in public. But tonight, after a rare and life-changing surgery, and a lot of personal determination, Charla Nash is able to open a wonderful new chapter in her life and she's showing her new face to the world for the first time , and the story is gaining wide attention. Our chief medical editor Dr. Nancy Snyderman has the medical back story of a remarkable woman's remarkable recovery.
Ms. CHARLA NASH: But this is very...
Dr. NANCY SNYDERMAN reporting: For two years, Charla Nash lived behind a veil. After being violently attacked by a friend's 200-pound pet chimpanzee, Nash lost her face, her eyes and almost died. Three months ago, Nash underwent a groundbreaking face transplant at the Brigham Women 's Hospital in Boston , a modern-day medical miracle.
Dr. BOHDAN POMAHAC (Brigham and Women's Hospital): Charla is doing very well. She's meeting all her milestones and has been every day both physically and mentally stronger.
Unidentified Woman #1: You relax and rest tonight.
SNYDERMAN: Milestones that include regaining her ability to smell, taste and swallow, all things doctors doubted she'd ever be able to do again.
Unidentified Woman #2: Can she smell yet or is she going to be able to?
Dr. POMAHAC: Yeah. Yeah.
Woman #2: Really?
Dr. POMAHAC: Yeah. Can you smell, Charlie ? Yeah.
Woman #2: Wow.
SNYDERMAN: The surgery involved replacing her nose, lips and eyelids. For 20 hours, a 30-member surgical team transplanted the face from an anonymous donor; and in so doing, gave Charla Nash a new life.
Dr. POMAHAC: Charla should hopefully no more be afraid to go to her daughter's graduations or parties or whatever it may be, wedding in the future. Who knows. I think she will feel human and she will feel from the environment that she's considered human again.
SNYDERMAN: Charla Nash is now only the third person in the United States to have successfully undergone a full face transplant , a testament to her personal strength and the skill of the doctors and nurses who persevered to do more than just save her life. Charla Nash still has months of rehabilitation and she's going to have to work on her swallowing and speech and getting her strength back. But right now at this point, there is no looking back, only forward, Brian . It's a really -- an amazing story.
WILLIAMS: It's one of those milestones we see from time to time .
SNYDERMAN: It sure it.
WILLIAMS: Nancy , thank you, as always.
SNYDERMAN: You're welcome.
WILLIAMS: When we come back here tonight, a woman who is